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Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Carlsbad, California
Level Contributor
85 posts
18 reviews
Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Am I correct in my understanding that I would need to use a SmarTrip if I want the convenience of a card to use on both buses and the metro?

We will be in DC from May 27th through June 1st. We will probably do as much walking as possible while we are in DC but I like the convenience of the bus or metro to get from A to B when my feet get tired or we just want to head to a different part of town.

From what I can tell from searching the forum and reading the WMATA website, if I dont want to use cash on buses (because I never have cash let alone the right change!) and I think I will utilise both buses and the metro, then a SmarTrip card is the most convenient.

It sounds like Farecards only work on the Metro? Is this correct?

I am not particularly worried about transfers between the bus and metro, but I would like to load some money on a card that can be used on either transport system.

Spending $5 to buy the card doesnt bother me if I get the convenience of using it on both modes.

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
10,740 posts
1. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Yes, SmarTrip works on both Metrorail and the bus and you get a discount if you transfer from one to the other within a certain amount of time.

"It sounds like [paper] Farecards only work on the Metro[rail]? Is this correct?"

Yes.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
1,416 posts
5 reviews
2. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Yes, you're right--if you don't want to carry cash/change (or buy a separate bus pass), a SmartTrip card is the way to go. I will say that most of the Metro Bus routes aren't especially useful for tourists--they're designed mostly for commuters, with a few exceptions (the various bus routes to the National Cathedral, for instance). But also note that you can use SmartTrip on the Circulator bus, which does serve many tourist destinations.

And, as a bonus, SmartTrip will get you on buses and through the Metro gates much faster than cash/change or farecards.

Carlsbad, California
Level Contributor
85 posts
18 reviews
3. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Thanks for your replies.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
21,254 posts
51 reviews
4. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

If convenience is your goal, SmarTrip is the way to go. Most people seem to be looking for the cheapest way and SmarTrip is not the cheapest for most tourists.

San Jose, California
Destination Expert
for California
Level Contributor
18,198 posts
120 reviews
5. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

I am not the OP, but I wanted to thank everybody for the info. We will be in DC this summer and were wondering about the SmarTrip versus fare cards too. We might go with the SmarTrip cards for the convinience as well. Usually we look for the cheapest option, but this trip we'll be with my mom who has a bum knee, so having the convinience of being able to take bus or metro without worrying about cash fares would be nice.

San Jose, California
Destination Expert
for California
Level Contributor
18,198 posts
120 reviews
6. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

A question (hit post too soon) - are the SmarTrip cards transferable? So like when we are leaving DC, having taken the Metro to the airport, can we give our cards to someone who is just arriving so that they wouldn't have to buy the card, just add value and use it, thereby saving someone else the $5 card fee?

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
1,416 posts
5 reviews
7. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Yes, SmartTrips are transferable--you can give it to your cousin or friend or a random tourist. But they're also lose-able--if you lose the card, someone can use it themselves. You can register the SmartTrip online for free so you can report it lost or stolen.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
151 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Yep, SmartTrip are transferrable. You can also do one negative value trip on them up to like $2.50 I think ;). Last time I took like bus it looked like they were accepting them (which is relatively new for them), but keep in mind the local commuter buses like RideOn in Montgomery County don't take them that I know of.

Metro by train is pretty convenient. I can't imagine you would have to bus very far unless you're trying to go somewhere obscure like Georgetown and that bus is separate and .50.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
21,254 posts
51 reviews
9. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

SmarTrip is accepted on nearly every bus system in the area, as well as Metro trains.

Mackinac Island...
Level Contributor
9 posts
7 reviews
10. Re: Pass for Both Metro and Buses

Where do you get a Smartrip card?